MOSCOW

HISTORY

 

Russian Federation

 

A Brief History Of Russia

The first mentioning of some community in the territory of what we now refer to as Russia came to be in the 4th Century with the formation of the first tribal union of Eastern Slavs (Volhynians and Buzhans). The following century marked yet another tribal union of Eastern Slavs, the Polyants, in the middle basin of the Dnieper River. This period claims the first written evidence about the "Rus" and "Rusah". 

Several tribes, including Turkish Avars and Asian Huns, invaded Russia over many centuries. Most parts of the Russian continent were inhabited by Eastern Slavs by 9th century. It was only after the advent of the Scandinavian warriors and traders called the Varangians that these fragmented groups of Eastern Slavs got united and formed the state of Russia.

Vladimir I, who ruled the state from year 980 to 1015, declared Christianity as the state’s common religion. As he himself followed Greek Orthodox Sacrament, the influence of the Byzantine culture was quite evident during this time. During the period between 1237 and 1240, numerous Russian cities were overrun and destroyed by the Tatars (Mongols) army led by Batu Khan. They established the great Golden Horde Empire, which remained in power in Russia until 1480, after which they were defeated by Dmitri Donskoi.

The outlook and culture of 17th century Russia was mainly medieval in nature. Increasing autonomy over peasants and land grants were offered as compensation to the nobles, who consequently became progressively more domineering over time. This made enslavement a legalized Russian tradition by 1649. The practice of enslavement reached heights by 18th century, giving rise to numerous aggressive peasant revolts, remarkably the ones led by Pugachev in 1773 - 1775 and by Stenka Razin in 1667 - 1671.

Other turning points on the history of Russia included the infamous, one year long Russo-Japanese War of 1904 followed by the great 1905 Russian Revolution. After Russia's socialist revolution of 1917, Moscow became the capital once again, and the state system of the large Russian country had changed completely. The followers of the communist ideas of Karl Marx and the ideology of the Russian revolution leader Vladimir Lenin took over. Until 1922 there was a civil war and the formation of the state, which entered the history as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union. The nationalist movements and oppressive political controls of Soviet Republics continued for nearly 70 years, with a body of 15 Soviet republics to the West, Southwest, and Southeast of what was once the Russian Empire. 

During its existence the Soviet Union had significantly raised the educational level of society, through the access to free education system, which was compulsory for all layers of population. The country had passed the stage of industrialization, developing light and heavy industry, metallurgy and high-tech industries, including spaceship building resulted in manned space expeditions. Despite these achievements the country faced ideological issues as time passed by. High dependence on the import of carbohydrates and decline in productivity led to the decline in the economy in the mid 1980s. The socialist system was in dire need of reform.

Mikhail Gorbachev come to power in 1985, and under his rule many reforms were brought in. Further reforms were made after Boris Yeltsin was made the Russian President in 1990. However, the power sharing contract that he signed with Gorbachev and eight other republican leaders led to the final collapse of the Soviet Union. Consequently, Belarus and Ukraine separated to form the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia finally took over the UN seat of USSR.

After the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1992, a phase of self formation occurred in republics of the former Soviet Union. The largest one, the Russian Federation, which was the basis of both the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union, embarked upon the construction of a market economy. 

Moscow

 

Early Moscow

The great city of Moscow was first mentioned in writing in 1147, when it was founded by Russian prince Yury Dolgoruky. Eight centuries ago there were some successful negotiations finished and Yury Dolgoruky decided to make a huge feast to celebrate. On their way to Vladimir his troops stopped on Moskva river where there was only a few houses back then. They killed the owner, took his wife and daughters, and made a huge party on the shore of Moskva river where the Kremlin is nowadays. That is how and why Moscow was first mentioned in the chronicles.

Initially it was a small settlement but it soon grew larger. In 1156 wooden walls were built around the Kremlin, however these walls failed to stop the Mongols and in 1237 they burned Moscow down. Moscow was rebuilt and it grew more prosperous and more important. Yet in 1382, the Mongols returned and destroyed Moscow once again. Moscow recovered once again and by the 15th century it had a population of about 50,000. In 1957, Crimean Tatars ravaged the city and again Moscow was reconstructed. By the early 17th century Moscow had a population of about 200,000. By the standards of the time it was a very large city.

In 1712 Tsar Peter the Great moved his capital from Moscow to St Petersburg. As a result Moscow entered a period of decline. To add to the cities dispair, in the 1770s Moscow suffered an outbreak of bubonic plague. Nevertheless, Moscow's University which was founded in 1755 prospered and by the beginning of the 19th century, Moscow was flourishing yet again. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia. The retreating Muscovites set their own city on fire. But Moscow was soon rebuilt and in the late 19th century the Industrial Revolution began to transform Russia.

Modern Moscow

In 1917 the Communists staged a revolution and they imposed a totalitarian regime in Russia. In 1918 Lenin moved his government to Moscow. Lenin was followed by the tyrant Josef Stalin. Under Stalin many historic buildings in the city were demolished. The first line of the Metro opened in 1935. In 1941 the Germans invaded Russia and reached the outskirts of Moscow at the beginning of December, but they were then driven back.

After the Second World War, Moscow continued to grow. Communism collapsed in Russia in 1991 and in 1997 Moscow celebrated its 850th anniversary. Today the population of Moscow is 11.9 million.

Attractions:

1. Red Square

Red Square is rich in symbols of Russia’s turbulent and intriguing past. Red Square remains, as it has been for centuries, the heart and soul of Russia. Few places in the world bear the weight of history to the extent that Moscow’s central square does. Explore Red Square's amazing buildings: from the GUM department store to Lenin's Mausoleum, walking along the Kremlin walls and the State Historical Museum. Visit one of the most significant symbols of Russia - The Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Resurrection Gate

Walk through the Resurrection (or Iberian) Gate

Alexandrovsky Sad (Alexander Garden)

Alexandrovsky Sad, a highlight of Moscow center. The garden is famous for its architectural monuments, incredibly beautiful flowerbeds and history. The Eternal Flame in the memory of the fallen heroes in the World War II glows in front of the Kremlin Kutafya Tower. 

State Historical Museum

The State Historical Museum, with a wonderful collection of artworks, depicting Russian history.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

From the 16th Century St. Basil’s Cathedral, one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world. Built to mark the capture of the cities of Kazan and Astrakhan. After construction of the cathedral, the poor architect was blinded by Ivan the Terrible. Guess why? (Hint: the cathedral is really beautiful)

Lenin’s Mausoleum

The constructivist pyramid of Lenin’s Mausoleum. Although Vladimir Ilych requested that he be buried beside his mum in St Petersburg, he still lies in state at the foot of the Kremlin wall, receiving visitors who come to pay their respects. Line up at the western corner of the square (near the entrance to Alexander Garden) to see the embalmed leader, who has been here since 1924.

Note that photography is not allowed and stern guards ensure that all visitors remain respectful and silent.

After trooping past the embalmed figure, emerge from the mausoleum and inspect the Kremlin wall, where other communist heavy hitters are buried.

Spasskaya Tower (Saviour Tower)

 The Spasskaya Tower, is the main tower on the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin which overlooks Red Square.

GUM Mall

Right at the Square there is one of the oldest and most remarkable shopping centers in Moscow, the GUM. Just several trading passages in Russia were created over a century ago and successfully operate until nowadays. GUM always was, and remains the greatest country’s store.

Zaryadye Park

To have some rest you can go to recently opened Zaryadye Park and enjoy breathtaking views of The Moscow Kremlin from the floating bridge, listen to some classic concerts or try local food from different regions of Russia.

Kazan Cathedral

Visit the Kazan Cathedral and listen to its story of magic transformations during the Soviet time

Resurrection Gate

Alexandrovsky Sad (Alexander Garden)

State Historical Museum

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Spasskaya Tower (Saviour Tower)

GUM Mall

Zaryadye Park

Kazan Cathedral

2. Take a Kremlin & Armoury private tour

Arrange a private tour. The guide can come to your hotel to begin the tour from there. They will use the metro (tickets are included) to take you to the Kremlin.

Duration of tour: 3 - 4 hours

Daily 9.30am - 2pm

(Closed on Thursdays)

Transportation:

Metro

Email: info@moscowprivatetours.com

Whatsapp chat: +7 965 417 6929 

 

The nearest metro stations to the Kremlin:

1. Okhotny Ryad

2. Ploshchad Revolutsii

3. Bibliotekaimeni Lenina

4. Aleksandrovskiy Sad

 

Kremlin

The Kremlin is the heart of Moscow, the origin of the Russian statehood and the most visited tourist attraction in Moscow. The Russian President Residence and the largest acting castle (by territory) in Europe has absorbed the mix of medieval history, unique architecture, Orthodox religion, Tsars and Soviet heritage, Imperial treasures and many others.

The Kremlin is located on the left bank of the Moskva River, on Borovitsky hill. The first fortress on this place was built in the 11th century during the reign of Dmitry Donskoy. Originally it was simple wooden fences with gaurd towers. Moscow's Kremlin walls were rebuilt in the second half of the 15th century during the reign of Grand Prince Ivan III and construction work lasted for many centuries.

Moscow and the Kremlin were captured by Napoleon's army in 1812, but soon withdrew from Moscow because of a fire. The communist's government was settled in the Kremlin in 1917. The Kremlin has been included in the UNESCO World Herritage List since 1990.

Entrance to the Kremlin

The visit to the Kremlin begins from the 2 remarkable towers: Kutafya (the only existing tower outside of the walls) and Trinity Tower (the tallest Kremlin tower, over 80 meters (262 feet). Between them lays a historical bridge over the river Neglinnaya which can’t be seen nowadays as it was taken into the underground tube at the beginning of XIX century.

State Kremlin Palace

Once you enter to the Kremlin you will see 2 massive buildings: on your left side is the Arsenal (the biggest building in Moscow at the time of construction (1701) used to store arms and weapons and on your right side is The State Kremlin Palace (the home to the famous Communist Party Congresses held during Soviet period).

Senate

This classical building housed the Governing Senate in Imperial Russia. Vladimir Lenin had his own office here during the Soviet era and today the whole building is the Working Residence of the Russian President. So, Mr Putin works here.

Tsar Cannon

This really huge cannon (6 meters long, 40 tonnes) is the biggest arm ever made in the whole Russian history. That is why it has the title "Tsar". It is also the largest bombard by caliber (35 inches) in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. It was used at least once for real shooting.

Tsar Bell

Can you imagine a 200 ton bell made of bronze, 6,14 meters high and 6,6 meters in diameter? Just visit the Kremlin to be impressed: not only by its size but also its beauty. However this bell is so heavy that nobody has heard it ringing.

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

This remarkable bell tower is located right in the middle of the Kremlin. For a very long time it was forbidden to build anything higher than this bell tower, so that was the tallest at 81 meters (265 feet) building in Russia until 18th century. There are 21 bells and the biggest one weights over 65 tons (actually it is the biggest acting bell in the world).

Assumption Cathedral

This is perhaps the major attraction in the Kremlin. Built in the 15th century by Italian architects it became the main Cathedral of Russia. This is the oldest building in Moscow which fully survived. That is where all the coronations of the Russian monarchs took place in the past. There are religious services in the Cathedral on special occasions.

Frescoes

The survived frescoes are truly unique. They were made by famous Dionisius (head of Moscow school of icon painters) back in 1481. The composition of paintings is complex but very well structured and full of sense.

Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals

Archangel Cathedral was the main necropolis for the Russian Tsars and Grand Princes until the time of Peter The Great when he has moved the capital to St Petersburg. There are 54 tombs inside the Cathedral. The Cathedral of Annunciation was the personal chapel of the Russian Tsars and draws your attention not only with the bright golden onion domes but also with its decoration inside.

The Armoury

The Armoury is one of the oldest museums in Russia (starting from 1808) and its main treasury. The museum consists of 9 halls and hosts one of the richest collections in the world. Enjoy your licensed private tour there (lasts 1,5 hours) and skip the line tickets.

Treasures

The largest collection of Imperial Faberge eggs (10 eggs), regal thrones, Imperial carriages and other royal regalia. Also it has a very large collection of Western European and Eastern applied arts and jewels.

Kremlin

Kutafya (the only existing tower outside of the walls)

Trinity Tower

State Kremlin Palace

Governing Senate

Tsar Cannon

Tsar Bell

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

Assumption Cathedral

Frescoes

Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals

Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals

The Armoury

Treasures (largest collection of Imperial Faberge eggs)

3. Bolshoi Theatre

Not far from the Kremlin and the main street of Moscow, Tverskaya street you will find the Theater Square. It is a green square with two beautiful fountains. The area owes its name because of three theaters located there: the world famous Bolshoi Theatre, Maly Theatre and Russian Academic Youth Theatre (RAMT).

The Bolshoi Theatre is a symbol of Russia for all time. It was awarded this honor due to the major contribution to the history of the Russian performing arts. This history is on going and today Bolshoi Theatre artists continue to contribute to it many bright pages. Visit the theatre to watch the magnificent Russian operas and ballets. Despite high ticket prices, you will never be disappointed; it is a real pearl of the world’s theatrical life.

Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre

4. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Follow Ostozhenka street to the city center and you will see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It is one of the largest Orthodox church in the world. The building is magnificent, but not as old as it looks, it was rebuilt in 2000 (the original was demolished by the order of Stalin). One of the highlights of the Cathedral is the panoramic view from the 40 meter (130 feet) high observation platform.

Use the footbridge from Christ the Savior Cathedral to get to the former area of confectionary factory Krasniy Octyabr (the Red October) with lots of stores, bars and cultural spots. The Strelka Bar is a good place to have some rest. It is a comfortable urban space for informal and having a cocktail. In summertime, the bar opens a terrace overlooking the Moscow River.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

5. The Metro:

The Moscow metro is one of the most beautiful in the world. It was created as a showcase for the Soviet Union, and serves as a living museum with its stations adorned with mosaics, marble statues and stained glass that document the story of the Communist state. There are 12 lines and 223 stations on the network. Navigating the metro is easy with announcements now also made in English. 

The Moscow Metro has its own unforgettable charm. It was opened in 1935 and became one of the USSR’s most extravagant architectural projects. That is why most of the central underground stations look like a museum. Every station has its own mood, different decorations and fascinating story. Take a journey in Moscow underground to get an unforgettable impression of the city. Some of the metro stations look like ballrooms and are definitely worth visiting. Get yourself a metro card and explore some of the famous stations.

 

Ticket prices: (2018)

1 trip: 55 rubles

2 trips: 110 rubles

20 trips: 747 rubles

You can buy tickets using the automated ticket machines or from the ticket booths. No matter how long you ride or how many transfers you make, you pay no extra fee.

Use the Yandex Metro mobile App. It is free to download and is essential when going underground.

 

Some of the most beautiful and famous metro stations in Moscow are:

 

1. Mayakovskaya Station

2. Komsomolskaya Station

3. Novoslobodskaya Station

4. Prospect Mira Station

5. Belorusskaya Station

6. Kiyevkaya Station

 

Komsomolskaya Station

Mayakovskaya Station

Prospect Mira Staion

Kiyevkaya Metro Station

Novoslobodskaya Station

6. The Novodevichy Convent

Built in the 16th and 17th centuries in the so-called Moscow Baroque style, was part of a chain of monastic ensembles that were integrated into the defence system of the city. The convent was directly associated with the political, cultural and religious history of Russia, and closely linked to the Moscow Kremlin. It was used by women of the Tsar’s family and the aristocracy. Members of the Tsar’s family and entourage were also buried in its cemetery. The convent provides an example of the highest accomplishments of Russian architecture with rich interiors and an important collection of paintings and artefacts.

The convent was closed in 1917, and in 1926, it became a branch of the State Historical Museum. The museum`s collection now consist of about 12,000 items, including old Russian paintings, fabrics from the 16th—20th centuries, items from precious metals and stones, liturgical items, and vestments, made by the best artists, jewelers and embroiderers.

The necropolis is one of the convent`s special attractions. The Novodevichy cemetery is divided into new and old sections. The old cemetery lies within the convent’s walls, and since the early 18th century it was the burial place for eminent and rich people, above all, the tsar’s family. In the 19th century, many prominent Russians were laid to rest here. The new cemetery was had been used from 1898 to 1904. During the Soviet era, the Novodevichy cemetery was second in prestige only to the Kremlin wall necropolis.

The Novodevichy Convent

7. Museum of Cosmonautics

The wonderful Cosmonautics Museum. It was opened in 1981, to the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin space flight. The idea of creating this museum belongs to famous Russian scientist S.P. Korolev, one of the major figures in rocketry and space ship building of the XX century. Nowadays a large exposition demonstrates a full-size rocket and space technology. You can try interactive exhibits, such as the one, identical to the Cosmonaut Training Center simulator, virtual international space station and more.

Museum of Cosmonautics

8. The Moscow Zoo

This is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. Its first name has been Zoological Park and it was opened in 1864. Through 140 years of its history, during times of peace, war, revolution the Zoo was open. Nowadays it is located right in the middle of the big city. The main entrance to the zoo, built in 1997, stands opposite Krasnopresnenskaya metro station. It looks like a fairytale castle with towers and a waterfall.

This enterance leads to the old part of the zoo, where the highlights include the big cats, a neat underground viewing space below the penguin pool, a dolphinarium, as well as the sea lion enclosure that lets you watch them swim from below. A pedestrian bridge takes you across the street to the New Territory, the most interesting parts of which are probably the primate house and fun children’s zoo.

Near the second enterance to the Zoo at the Garden ring, The Moscow Planetarium is located. It was first opened on November 5, 1929. After a global reconstruction, it was reopened in 2011. Now it is a multifunctional complex that combines scientific and educational resources: the interactive museum (Lunarium), the Museum of Urania, the Big Star Hall and the Sky Park, family recreation center that is focused on different age groups. The Moscow Planetarium is one of the biggest planetariums in the world.

The Moscow Zoo

Accommodation:

Renaissance Moscow Monarch Centre Hotel

1. Renaissance Moscow Monarch Centre Hotel